Estimation of baboon daily travel distances by means of point sampling – the magnitude of underestimation
Daily travel distance (DTD), the distance an animal moves over the course of the day, is an important metric in movement ecology. It provides data with which to test hypotheses related to energetics and behaviour, e.g. impact of group size or food distribution on DTDs. The automated tracking of movements by applying GPS technology has become widely available and easy to implement. However, due to battery duration constraints, it is necessary to select a tracking-time resolution, which inevitably introduces an underestimation of the true underlying path distance. Here we give a quantification of this inherent systematic underestimation of DTDs for a terrestrial primate, the Guinea baboon. We show that sampling protocols with interval lengths from 1 to 120 min underestimate DTDs on average by 7 to 35 %. For longer time intervals (i.e. 60, 90, 120 min), the relative increase of deviation from the
true trajectory is less pronounced than for shorter intervals. Our study provides first hints on the magnitude of error, which can be applied as a corrective when estimating absolute DTDs in calculations on travelling costs in terrestrial primates.